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Radio's AmericaThe Great Depression and the Rise of Modern Mass Culture$
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Bruce Lenthall

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226471914

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226471938.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Radio's Challenges

Radio's Challenges

Public Intellectuals and the Problem of Mass Culture

(p.17) 1 Radio's Challenges
Radio's America
University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses public intellectuals and the problem of mass culture. Radio's intellectual defenders' idea that mass culture bowed to the will of the populace had considerable endurance, but it ignored the realities of broadcasting, modern America, and how power operated in a centralized system. On the other side, those intellectuals critical of radio also overstated the case, depicting an almost entirely oppressive mass culture. William Orton railed that mass culture attacked those distinct minorities; it ignored their different needs and different interests. Like Orton, James Rorty affiliated loosely with educators' push for radio reform. Radio's defenders failed to see that business leaders had their own interests and used the medium for their own propaganda. On the other hand, radio's critics were right that broadcasting helped significantly limit listeners' control, but those listeners also used the medium to open up new possibilities.

Keywords:   public intellectuals, mass culture, radio, broadcasting, modern America, William Orton, James Rorty

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